Softball Captures City Title

The Irish softball team defeated Heritage Christian to recapture the City Championship

After somewhat of a rocky start to their season, the softball team seems to have hit its stride. It has been a season filled with unprecedented adversity for the team, and they held an 8-7 record heading into the month of May. The team has not been at full strength for the majority of this season, as they have had multiple stretches of games with key players missing with injury. Starting pitcher and junior Jade Slone, who held a 20-9 record with a 2.44 earned run average (ERA) in 2022, has been dealing with health issues and has missed the entire season so far. Assistant Coach Mrs. Linda Bamrick said, “We’d love to have (Slone) return, but her health comes first and then her academics. We miss her, and we’re hopeful she will make a full recovery.”

In Slone’s absence, younger, more inexperienced pitchers have had to step up and throw meaningful innings. Freshman Sidney Feczko has really stepped up, throwing 100 innings as of May 16 with a 3.64 ERA. Bamrick said, “(Feczko) has stepped in quite admirably on the mound and continues to improve daily.” She also mentioned sophomores Maddie Liter and Lauren Wright as contributors on the mound. This year’s team is very young, with only one senior, Earlham College commit Emmerie Stump, in the starting lineup. The rest of the lineup includes one freshman, four sophomores and three juniors. This group has talent, but lacks the leadership and years of experience of teams that have lots of seniors. This may be the reason for the somewhat slow start to the team’s season. On May 2, they took a tough loss to Brownsburg, giving up three runs in the seventh inning to lose 8-6.

Sophomore Maddie Liter makes contact with a pitch. Liter’s home run gave the Irish the
lead in the City Championship on May 6. (Lacey Nix)

However, since that loss to the Bulldogs, something seems to have changed for the team. Bamrick said, “Early in the season we struggled getting the third out of an inning. We felt a lot of pressure defensively, but we seem to have broken through that barrier.” The team rattled off an eight game win streak after losing to Brownsburg, and they have yet to lose a game since (as of May 16).

This winning streak could not have come at a better time, as the City Tournament was being played in its midst. In the first round, the Irish defeated Herron 16-4, and they then beat Scecina Memorial 16-2. Those wins set the team up to face Heritage Christian in the City Championship. The Irish were looking to bounce back after last season’s 2-1 loss to Bishop Chatard in the championship game.

The game was a pitcher’s duel from the beginning, as it was Feczko versus Heritage Christian junior Alayna Tesnar. Heritage scored in the top of the first inning, but the Irish answered back in the bottom of the inning when sophomore Angie Valentine hit a sacrifice fly to score junior Mary Hughes. The two pitchers went back and forth, allowing no runs until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Liter hit a two-run home run, scoring herself and Hughes and securing a 3-1 lead for the Irish. Feczko continued to pitch well, pitching the rest of the game without allowing a run on the way to a 3-1 Irish victory. Bamrick said, regarding the game, “We are hoping to feed off this win and keep our bats alive as Sectionals are less than two weeks away.”

A massive part of the team’s success during the City Tournament was the introduction of junior Alyssa Fry into the lineup. Fry, a transfer from Pendleton Heights, was not eligible to play until May 5, when she made her debut against Scecina. In the two games she played in the tournament, Fry collected four hits, including two doubles and a home run. Bamrick said, “It’s great to add another power hitter to our lineup. (Fry)’s a hard worker, and loves the game! We are blessed to have her as part of our program.”

We are hoping to feed off this win and keep our bats alive as Sectionals are less than two weeks away.

— Linda Bamrick

As the regular season comes to a close on May 20, the team will look ahead to the State Tournament, beginning on May 25. This year marks the first that the team will compete in 4A, and they have been placed in Sectional 10, which includes Ben Davis, Crispus Attucks, Lawrence Central, Lawrence North, North Central and Pike. The Irish drew a bye for the first round, and they will face the winner of Pike and Ben Davis on May 25 at 6 p.m.

Though they have just accomplished their goal of winning a City title, the team is not yet satisfied, according to Bamrick. She said, “Our sights now are to finish the regular season strong, attaining our goal of 20 wins, but most importantly winning the Sectional.”